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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN    RELATIONS

Powers both of which were desperately anxious to
avoid a conflict of any sort.

Though the example that I have given is a purely^
hypothetical one, as I have said—for in the complicated
realm of history so clear a pattern will never be found in
its absolute purity—still there is a sense in which it
typifies an essential human predicament; it illustrates
a certain recalcitrancy that may lie in events as such, an
intractability that can exist in the human situation itself.
Here, in other words, is the mathematical formula—or
perhaps one of the formulas—for a state of things whjch
produces what I should call the tragic element in human
conflict. As regards the real world of international
relations I should put forward the thesis (which, if it is
true, would seem to me to be not an unimportant one)
that this condition of absolute predicament or irreducible
dilemma lies in the very geometry of human conflict.
It is at the basis of the structure of any given episode in
that conflict. It is ,at the basis of all the tensions of the
present day, representing even now the residual problem
that the world has not solved, the hard nut that we still
have to crack. So far as the historian is concerned, here
is the basic pattern for all narratives of human conflict,
whatever other patterns may be superimposed upon it
later. Indeed, as I have said, when the historical
reconstruction of a given episode has been carried on
for generation upon generation, this is the structure
the story tends to acquire as it becomes revised and
corrected and reshaped with the passage of time. This
tragedy of the absolute human predicament enters into
the very fabric of historical narrative in proportion as

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